Random Musings.

Nexus 7: A Worthy Tool for the System Administrator

The last day of August, 2012, I got a box in the mail. The contents? A 16GB Nexus 7. My first android device.

Since then, its been a fun ride, and I’ve learned the various cool tools out there for a IT person.

I do contract work with a nameless startup incubator in the area, and as part of that, I’m partially responsible for printers, user-facing documentation, etc.

As such, I was constantly plugging and unplugging my laptop to show people this, that or the other. however, the tablet has replaced my laptop for a lot of those duties. Let me explain more.


Like it or not, we all have to document things. And we have to do it well, for our intended audience. Now, we have two main pieces of user-facing documentation - the WiFi setup, and the printer setup. Two documents,one of which changes as we fix things (printers).

The Nexus 7 is just the right for me to pull of the document and refer to it as I’m working on someone’s machine. The apps I use for that are:

  • Dropbox. We use a shared dropbox folder to share the documents.

Now, to view them, I need a office type tool. While I could (and have) use Google drive, it doesn’t lend itself to the situation well.

I’ve looked at the softmaker line of products, but I haven’t been impressed with their linux offerings, so I’m not sure if I should risk the price for the full amount.

However, I am very happy with Kingston Office Writer.

It’s free, and available for Android here.


The ConnectBot family is well-known and very well featured for being able to do SSH.

However, I’ve discovered that stock ConnectBot doesn’t play nice with function keys on bluetooth keyboards, so I am using a fork of ConnectBot called VX ConnectBot that properly supports external keyboards.

ConnectBot supports SSH keys, although I don’t make use of them - I don’t do enough SSH on my tablet to worry about that.


Evernote. While I used to be a fan of Tomboy/Tomdroid/Ubuntu One, recent events have pushed me into the Evernote fold. And I must say, it’s nice. I’m using it to write this blog post right now.

I shell out the cash each month for Evernote Premium, and while I’m enjoying it so far, there are a few “problems” I have with it, but I also had them with Tomboy.

  • No Markdown support. Really, everything should support markdown.
  • Search sucks. Always has, always will. Someday someone will make search that doesn’t suck, but that day has not yet come.
  • inline image embedding. For this, that’d be really nice. But oh well.

PDF Viewer.

Amazon Kindle or the built-in PDF reader are my go-to PDF readers. They aren’t terrific, but they are ok.


Ahg. Email, the bane of every IT persons existence. Email is something I detest. People need to understand that when they email me, I will see it, and then prioritize it. I’m sad that people think that emailing me = instant response and I go and fix their problem. If you email someone, you should expect up to a 72 hour wait period before you get a response. If it’s that important, call me. The important people have my number, and the smart ones who might need to call me know where and how to find it.

Anyway, I use the excellent gmail app for my email. I have gmail filters setup server side that filter out mailing lists and similar things into gmail tags, so they never hit my inbox. I then have gmail setup to only send me a push notification if it’s in the priority inbox.

So, lets bits and pieces that don’t really fall into any category are:

More communication tools: Skype , Google Talk (no link that I could find in the Play Store) and for IRC, I’m a fan of AndChat. Google Voice is another good one, if you’re a Google Voice user, I highly recommend installing the application - while I still haven’t figured out how to make calls from my Nexus 7, for text messages, it works fine. Lastly, for those times that Skype is just being a pain in the rear, there is Google + Hangouts, which are pretty useful.

Web Browser

For choice of Browser, I have two installed. I have Chrome Beta, and I have Firefox. My main browser is Chrome, and I have Firefox for accessing all the internal sites that require self-signed SSL certificates. I much prefer Chromes tab setup, but Firefox is pretty fast.

Password management:

I’m cheap, remember? So I am a fan of keepass and Dropbox.

So I store my passwords in a Keepass2 (or KeepassX) database, synced to my Dropbox folder. On my Tablet, I use keepassdroid to access it, and it’s all hunky dory.

Other tools I’ve tried are:

  • Universal Password Manager. I can’t explain why, but something about it not being in the archive for Ubuntu just made me not want to deal with it.

  • LastPass. Only way to get the mobile apps is the give them money, and I’m not a fan of proprietary applications storing something like my passwords. At least in dropbox, everything is a file.

Todo list:

I use a combination of todo.txt and Wunderlist, but I’m not entirely sure how well it’s working. Ask me in a few months.

So, that’s my list of tools. What is in your toolbox?